The WordPress community is big. Really big. We’re talking thousands of designers and developers, tens of thousands of writers, and millions of users, all contributing to pushing WordPress forward. And one very popular way to do this is designing and developing free themes.
Free themes are a great way to get a blog or website off the ground. You might want to start writing about a topic but don’t want to invest the money in a custom site design on top of hosting and a domain. And once your site is up and running, there’s nothing to stop you dissecting them, building on top of them and learning from them.
A responsive theme designed for blogs and magazines that aren’t about fluff. Zenith has multiple layout options, custom menus, integrated Gravity Form styles, and custom page templates.
Sensitive is a fully responsive theme built using Twitter’s Bootstrap framework with Metro Styled Accent. It ships with three different page templates, support for custom backgrounds and menus. It’s a great option if you’re looking for clean and modern, without a lot of fussy code.
Slider Lite is a clean, modern and responsive theme that showcases a large, full-width sliding panel at the top of the page. Each post featured within the slider supports an image and caption, as well as the content itself. As with some of the other themes featured here, Twitter’s Bootstrap is used to provide the functionality within the theme, making it easily extensible.
Appliance is a super-clean and minimalist theme that presents posts in a series of panels across the page instead of as a simple list. It’s very code-light, making it quick to load, and has a pleasingly clean look that’s ideal for magazine-style content where each post will feature a strong image.
Noteworthy is a bold theme that, according to its author, is modelled on the USA Today website. The colour scheme is modern and clean, while bordering on brash, but the stand-out feature of this theme is the showcase area for the most recent post.
Origin is a premium, fully responsive WordPress blog theme with a minimal, clean design that allows visitors to focus on content. Origin lite is the only free version of this theme, which features a fixed two-column layout, responsive gallery and custom widgets for categories and social media networks.
Folder is a free WordPress theme with a slight retro feel to it. With a design dominated by images, this responsive theme is perfect for displaying projects and products. Features include custom project posts and admin panel, five different widgets included (video, latest work, contact form, twitter feed, recent posts), and more.
There’s no shortage of modern and minimal WordPress themes available online. But YAMINTH (Yet Another Minimal Theme) and its unusual image layout caught our eye. The free theme comes with light colors, dark footer, Google Web Fonts and jQuery fade in, fade out of images. It also hasan options page for easy customisation and is free for use in both personal and commercial projects.
Designed specially with bloggers and designers in mind, vFlex is a stylish, free, responsive WordPress theme. Its main features include an inbuilt FlexSlider so you can simply select featured images and an integrated VibeOptions panel, which supports logo upload, import and export settings and many other features. vFlex’s responsive layout also means the theme looks great on iPad, iPhones, and other devices.
If you want to showcase images in all their glory, free WordPress theme Panoramica may be just what you’re after. Its design heavily emphasizes the use of images, with its appearance fully customiseable through an extensive options panel. Panoramica also features a full-width slideshow on the homepage, perfect for grabbing prospective client’s and employer’s attention.
Xenastore is one of those WordPress themes that stands out because it is simple but bold. The use of colours and graphical elements are subtle but add a lot of value to the site. The homepage offers several widget areas, making it very easy to offer specials, coupons and more. With a large featured section, showcasing a small number of products can be done very easily.
I like this free WordPress theme so much I’m currently using it to power Jes.se.com. Responsive utilises several homepage widget areas to drop in content, making it easy to control everything. It has a very large and easy to control featured area on the homepage, which was perfect for me to feature my book, Web Designer’s Guide to WordPress.
Who doesn’t like Balloons? I could probably ask the same thing about parallax scrolling. This is the first free WordPress theme I’ve seen that uses the recently widely adopted effect of multiple scrolling speeds. Balloons utilises a minimalistic design and lets you focus on the cool scrolling effect. While a small business or corporation may not get what they want out of this theme it would work beautifully for an event or personal website.
Grid gives you the feeling you’re on a site that’s had a lot of thought put into its design. This free WordPress theme would work really well for a portfolio, artist or event site. It’s very graphic or photo heavy so make sure you have the content to back it up. One plus is that this theme maintains its responsiveness quite well.
If you’re looking for a free WordPress theme that lets the content do the work, then Fotofolio is for you. While its design and layout is really well done, it’s also subtle and inconspicuous, allowing your stunning photos to take control of the visitor’s eyes. The functionality and use of the theme is also quite nice.
I’m becoming more and more a fan of the left hand nav. With the adoption of wider desktops it makes it easy for us to utilise more space, making it easier and more pleasant for visitors to view your content. Free WordPress theme Bonpress does a really nice job of organising the layout while maintaining responsive functionality. Whether you need a typical website, blog or portfolio site, this theme will do nicely for you.
At first glance, I couldn’t tell if I really liked this free WordPress theme or just the stunning photos. Sometimes if your content (especially photos) isn’t as nice as what’s in the demo, you can lose the effect you wanted in the first place. However, after getting to know Architekt a bit more I realised it was the layout and minimalistic approach to the design that made the content stand out so well. This is a really nicely designed and well thought-out responsive theme that will work for you.
The crew over at WooThemes really know what they are doing. This free WordPress theme is very well designed, with a lot of detail put into every element. Swatch is definitely a theme that you don’t have to customise at all, it’s just so nice right out of the box.
There are a lot of widget areas, columns and places for a lot of content. Make sure you have enough content to fill it. Hopefully in the near future they’ll put in the extra work to make this theme responsive.
19. Blue Bubble
This theme uses the left-hand sidebar well; I like the navigation alongside the blog posts. One thing to be aware of is the use of featured images. If not every one of your posts comes with a featured image you may lose the effect of the proportionate and balanced layout. If you’re a web designer you should be able to convert this free WordPress theme to a responsive layout relatively easily.
20. Big Square
I’m a fan of art museums and this free WordPress theme gives you the feeling you’re reading about a painting hanging on the wall at your local contemporary art museum. It designates a lot of space to the image or photograph so if you’re trying to showcase your work you Big Square will do nicely for you.
It’s only a matter of time before WordPress is seen as a viable option for ecommerce sites of all types. Free WordPress themes like EBUY continue to push the envelope and get us ever closer to that goal. This theme is well laid out and offers a great deal of features to help you share and sell your products.
Busby is a really nice free theme. Its use of bold colours and well planned fonts makes it stand out. I love the styling and emphasis on post dates. However, if you aren’t posting often, a proud and boldly stated date may make your theme look stale and outdated. Frequent bloggers looking to keep visitors on their site for long periods of time will benefit from this theme greatly.
Saying that Blog-O-Folio uses bold contrasting colours would be an understatement. The layout is really nicely put together and the entire theme is very functional. The dedication of real estate to blog posts and sidebar make this free WordPress theme very blogger friendly.
Skeleton has a lot going for it. Firstly, it’s very minimal so if you know what you’re doing it will be very easy for you to layer your own flavour of style and colour on it. Secondly, it’s responsive, so it’s ready for any and all devices. The added bonus that it’s BBPress ready just increases its value. Lots of widget and featured areas makes this a very versatile WordPress theme.
Shuttershot is another free WordPress theme that lets the content speak for itself. If you have less than stellar photographs or graphics you may want to use a different theme. Allocating the entire homepage to a single image will pressure you to highlight your best work. Make sure your content can support this really well made theme before you move forward with it.
The aptly named Spectacular theme is really well designed and laid out. The colours are subtle but really help the visitor navigate the site. While this free WordPress theme does appear to be very blog-centric it would be easy enough to convert this to a small business, event or product website. Make sure that the logo or featured graphic at the top is designed to fit the theme. A black and lime green race car logo will not do this theme justice.
Sometimes “Plain Jane” themes like Meeta get overlooked. However themes like this are easily converted and modified to fit your site and content. With two navigations, a featured graphic and a responsive layout, this free WordPress theme will act as a great foundation for your site or blog. However you will need to dedicate the time to customise it a bit.
28. WP Coda
What WPCoda does well is easy navigation of pages without moving off the homepage. All the pages in the tabbed navigation below the tagline are served to the visitor without reloading the page, functionality that is usually reserved for custom builds. I have to be honest, I’m not really sold on the colour scheme of WP Coda, but that is easily adaptable to your needs.
Splendio has done a great job of balancing the featured content of the page with additional added value content. You want to promote the other pages and posts on your site (to increase traction and time on site) without taking away from the reason the visitor is there in the first place. This is a difficult task that the designers and developers of Splendio have done well. The details and colours really help to make this a great blog theme.
30. Polar Media
I like the content used to demo PolarMedia because it speaks to exactly how this theme should be used. It’s great for a blog featuring news and up-to-the-minute updates.
This free WordPress theme does a great job of showcasing content in a new format. Whether you’re reporting on red carpet happenings or political disputes, it will do you and your visitors proud.
31. Clean Retina
Clean Retina delivers exactly what it says on the tin. The theme is simple, clean, responsive and retina-ready. There is a selection of nine homepage layout options, as well as a large homepage slider with space for supporting text. This theme would work nicely for bloggers or small business owners.
32. Simple Corp
Simple Corp is a responsive HTML theme by Site5. It includes plenty of time-saving features, so there’s no need to go hunting around for plug-ins. The contact page includes a built-in contact form and a large Google Map. Multiple colour styles can be easily accessed via the colour options tab. A good use of this WordPress theme could be to update a corporate website with a fresh vibe.
Workality is a responsive WordPress theme that provides a powerful way to showcase your work. Your images, videos, and text will all scale down precisely for iPad, iPhone, and all mobile devices. It’s also compatible with all major browsers. Workality offers four different thumbnail sizes for your portfolio layout, small, medium, large, and portrait.
Photo is best suited for a photographer’s website, as its major feature is its responsive gallery. The theme is clean with a bold header that emphasizes your logo. This is perfect if you’re looking for a minimal and versatile theme.
With an unlimited selection of colour themes this theme would be appropriate for any blogger. Another feature, which has been cropping up on some of the newer WordPress themes, is the Translation-ready abilities, reaching new audiences in a foreign languages.